In the first official admission that the universal prevention strategy promoted by the major Aids organisations may have been misdirected, Kevin de Cock, the head of the WHO's department of HIV/Aids said there will be no generalised epidemic of Aids in the heterosexual population outside Africa.Other news that seems largely to have been ignored is the announcement by University of Texas researchers that they have found an "Achilles' heel" to HIV. This is especially interesting to me since our local infection control specialist, Dr. Stephen G. Hausrath, was an HIV researcher at UT before going to medical school. I firmly believe every hospital should have their own Dr. Hausrath. He is from central casting, no joke--infectious disease bowtie and all. I mean that in a loving way, though. Two nurses I respect and who are working on their NP degrees both asked to have a rotation with him.
Dr De Cock, an epidemiologist who has spent much of his career leading the battle against the disease, said understanding of the threat posed by the virus had changed. Whereas once it was seen as a risk to populations everywhere, it was now recognised that, outside sub-Saharan Africa, it was confined to high-risk groups including men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and sex workers and their clients.
Anyhow, I digress:
Paul's group has engineered antibodies with enzymatic activity, also known as abzymes, which can attack the Achilles heel of the virus in a precise way. "The abzymes recognize essentially all of the diverse HIV forms found across the world. This solves the problem of HIV changeability. The next step is to confirm our theory in human clinical trials," Paul said.
Unlike regular antibodies, abzymes degrade the virus permanently. A single abzyme molecule inactivates thousands of virus particles. Regular antibodies inactivate only one virus particle, and their anti-viral HIV effect is weaker.
"This is an entirely new finding. It is a novel antibody that appears to be very effective in killing the HIV virus. The main question now is if this can be applied to developing vaccine and possibly used as a microbicide to prevent sexual transmission," said David C. Montefiori, Ph.D., director of the Laboratory for AIDS Vaccine Research & Development at Duke University Medical Center. The abzymes are now under development for HIV immunotherapy by infusion into blood. They could also be used to guard against sexual HIV transmission as topical vaginal or rectal formulations.